When you first talk with your child about bullying, be prepared to listen without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive place where your child can work out his or her feelings. Children may not be ready to open up right away as they, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying and may be feeling insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad. When your child begins to tell their story, just listen and avoid making judgmental comments. It’s important to learn as much as possible about the situation, such as how long the behavior has been happening, who has been involved, and what steps have been taken. Encourage your child to talk, and let them know they are not alone and you are there to help.
Make sure your child knows:
The challenge for parents is ensuring that children learn to accept and respect differences, thus making them more productive adults. But, where do we start? Children don't come with instructions, but they do come with open minds. Much of what they learn about respecting differences comes from their parents. That being said, consider the following suggestions:
Start with us. Children listen to what we say as well as watch what we do. So as parents, we must deal with our own diversity deficits, so that we can lead by not just saying but also by doing. For example, one parent tells her children not to judge people by their color. The family lives in a majority white community and the children have had very limited interactions with blacks.
However, her children hear her telling friends that the blacks with whom she works are so lazy that she has to do their job and her job. If we are to teach our children to make decisions that are not based on stereotypes, then we must do the same. In this example, the people may in fact have been lazy. However, it is not their blackness that makes them lazy - they are just lazy. "Do as I say but not as I do" does not help children become more accepting of differences.
Get out of our comfort zone. For all the talk about diversity, Americans still segregate ourselves into fairly homogenous communities. Teaching our children to accept differences may require that we use the power of the internet to learn about differences, that we seek out cultural activities that are out of our community and explore the strength and value in diversity. It is not enough to simply visit cultural events, eat ethnic foods and thus learn about differences from a voyeuristic point of view. Instead, we must make a deliberate effort to get out of the familiar and show our children we mean it. Accepting differences should be how we live our lives.
Listen and respond. When children ask about differences, start by listening to the question they are asking and the language they are using. If in asking questions about differences they are using hurtful or stereotypical language, explore with them why such language is hurtful. Explain in an age-appropriate manner why stereotypes don't tell the whole story and are divisive.
Don't be blind to differences. Parents often tell me that they want their children to be "difference blind." This is both unrealistic and misses the point. Children will notice that Jouain has a different sounding name or that Yasmeen always wears a head scarf to school, or that Rajiv eats foods that look and smell different from what they eat. They will have a natural curiosity about this. As parents, we must help them appreciate and learn about those differences, not pretend that they do not exist. The question is not whether differences exist; it is what message we are sending by teaching children to be "blind" to differences. Unless we as parents are willing to help explain to children what seems strange or different to them, we will never be successful in teaching children to understand and appreciate differences.
Avoid political correctness. Parents who teach children to be politically correct when interacting with differences are making the situation worse. Rather than teach children the correct labels or names for people, let's teach them that differences are only a part of who we are. It is not the total of who we are.
Parents teach children how to brush their teeth, to comb their hair, to be responsible and to be successful. We do so by introducing and reinforcing behavior that helps achieve these goals. We should do the same when it comes to appreciating diversity. It is only then that we can move from tolerance to acceptance.
What Adults Need to Know About Personal Safety for Children by Irene van der Zande
1. Personal safety means keeping your feelings and body safe if people act thoughtless, mean, scary, or dangerous.
Personal safety means being in charge of yourself so that you act safely towards others.
2. Violence against young people is a leading health issue of our time.
A study about violence against children entitled “Children’s Violence: A Comprehensive National Study” was released by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2009. According to the study director and director of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, David Finkelhor, Pd.D., “Children experience far more violence, abuse and crime than do adults. If life were this dangerous for ordinary grown-ups, we’d never tolerate it.” The study found that over 60% of the children surveyed were exposed either directly or indirectly to some form of violence in the last year.
3. Most of the people who harm children are NOT strangers.
According to the National Victims Center, 95% of sexual abuse happens with people children know. Of these, one third are family members – stepparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings, grandparents and parents. Two thirds are other people known to the child – neighbors, youth group leaders, teachers, other children, religious leaders and friends. Experts estimate that one in three girls and one in four boys will be sexually abused before they are eighteen years old.
4. Molesters will often spend up to a year cultivating a trusting relationship with a family, a school, a religious community, or a group of friends before they make their first move.
They will often start by systematically creating an emotional connection with a child, pushing the child’s boundaries and ensuring that the child won’t tell before they do anything that is sexual. This means that children who have skills for setting boundaries and getting help are less likely to be targeted by a molester.
5. Federal agencies estimate that there are 100,000 attempted abductions by strangers each year in the United States. About 2,000 children a year are kidnapped by strangers.
Although this is important for adults to know, it is not healthy for children to believe that the world is full of dangerous people called “strangers.” Instead adults can tell children that most people are good but, if we do not know them well, there are safety rules to follow.
6. One out of seven school children have either been victimized by bullying or have bullied others.
Most children have witnessed bullying. Bullying is harmful. Adults are responsible for noticing all forms of bullying and for taking action to make it against the rules.
7. Just telling children about the bad things that might happen makes them anxious.
Coaching children so they can be successful in actually practicing skills helps them to become more confident and capable.
8. Young children are very literal, and we need to be sure that they understand what we mean.
Telling children, “Never talk to a stranger” is untrue because we ask them to greet people they see as strangers all the time. Telling children, “Never let anyone touch your private areas” is also untrue because it is normal for adults to pat children, pick them up, and help them stay clean and healthy. This is why Kidpower focuses on using language that is clear, truthful, consistent, and positive.
9. Adults need to provide ongoing supervision to ensure the safety of the children in their lives and to keep LISTENING to children.
However, it is also important that children learn how to protect themselves by knowing their safety rules and following their safety plans. Most kidnappings can be prevented if children are able to be aware, move away from someone they don’t know, and check first with their adult. Most sexual abuse and most bullying can be prevented if children can set personal boundaries and be ask for help. Most assaults can be stopped if children yell and run to safety when they are scared.
10. Kidpower brings self protection and confidence to people of all ages and abilities.
Workshops can prepare adults to help children learn how to use their own power to stay safe. For more information, visit the web page at www.kidpower.org
In May, our school counseling program is focusing on College and Career Readiness. That means that all Nottingham Knights will learn about postsecondary opportunities and careers in their classroom lessons with the counselors. Elementary school is the perfect time for kids to start learning about careers because we know that children perform better in school if they understand how education affects their futures.
In elementary school, school counselors focus on career awareness and personal exploration. We help students:
o Understand the connection between school and the world of work
o Discover the broad range of occupations available
o Connect the learning in school to situations in the real world
o Start to picture themselves as workers
o Develop their work-readiness skills, or the “soft skills”, that all jobs require like working in groups, organizational skills, problem solving, and leadership
At Nottingham, our Kindergarteners learn about workers in our school. First grade Knights explore the tools associated with a variety of occupations. Second graders delve into the six career paths. In third grade, students revisit the six career paths and make connections between play, school, and careers. Fourth graders learn about jobs long ago, jobs today, and jobs of the future. Fifth grade Knights explore their personal strengths and career goals.
Parents can help their children learn about a variety of careers and how their educations connect with future jobs. For example, you can talk about how veterinarians use math to calculate the amount of medicine animals need, fire fighters need to be good at working in groups, and video game designers must have good writing skills and the ability to accept constructive feedback. More tips from America’s Career Resource Network are below (http://acrn.ovae.org/parents/careeraware.htm).
How to Talk to Your Child about Careers
Relate your child's interests to adult activities. For example:
Children enrolled in elementary school can usually handle around two to four activities per week depending on the child. You may be able to find a variety of activities to choose from, depending on your child's interests. Below is a list of some extracurricular activities for elementary students.